The Christmas season is a uniquely busy time of year. It seems like every single day in December a new event or task is being added to the calendar—holiday parties, family dinners, children’s performances, cookie exchanges, gift shopping, holiday traditions, Secret Santa’s, tree decorating… the list goes on and on. It often begins with the best intentions: time together, fun memories, and a wonderful holiday season for our family. However, the results often yield stress, burnout, and sometimes even loathing of the season. Simplifying Christmas may be exactly what you need to make this a season of “want to do” instead of “have to do.”
Choosing only the essential commitments and not being afraid to skip out on the non-essentials will allow you more time, focus, and energy to truly participate in the traditions and events you really value. And honestly, most people’s happiest memories and favorite traditions are simple and take place at home: baking cookies, watching movies and drinking hot chocolate, decorating the Christmas tree, etc.
Less events, less shopping, and less gift-giving result in less money spent. Gift-giving is the number one stressor of the holiday season, according to a recent BankRate survey. The survey also reported over 50% of people feel pressured to spend more money than they are comfortable with on gifts, particularly in families with children under the age of 18.
Not only is buying gifts a common stressor, but so is receiving gifts, especially for parents. Many parents declutter and purge in preparation for Christmas, knowing all their hard work will be undone in a matter of hours on Christmas Day. Minimizing amounts and intentionally shopping for Christmas gifts will help keep your home in shape. For those who love gift-giving, this isn’t a suggestion to eliminate giving gifts or accepting gifts. Clutter exists whenever an item is unwanted and unused. Requesting gifts that you or others really want will help in this area. Additionally, there are so many fun gift ideas that don’t take up space such as tickets to a movie, play, concert, or other event, monthly subscription boxes, or season passes to a museum, zoo, or a favorite sports team, cooking, art, or dance classes.
With gift-giving, whether you’re worried about spending, clutter, or quality of gifts, a simple approach can alleviate much of the stress around gift-giving. Throughout the years, I’ve commonly heard a few approaches families have taken to simplify presents: “The Four Gifts Rule”: one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing you wear, one thing you read, “Three Gifts of the Three Wise Men”: gold: an item of high value, frankincense: a gift to encourage (mental, spiritual, physical) growth, myrrh: something for the body including clothes or shoes, “collect moments, not things”: don’t give physical gifts, but gift experiences like those mentioned above.
No matter what you choose to do, be mindful of the time and money commitments the holiday season brings and choose only those things that will ensure you have a happy and wonderful Christmas season with a focus on those who mean to most to you.